The Best of Todays Engineer: On Innovation


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The early electrical cars were popular it the late 's and early 's as they offered a level of comfort and ease of use not achieved by rivaling technology at the time. It is estimated around 30, such vehicles had been produced by the turn of the 20th Century. The internal combustion engine would ultimately win out, shunting electrical cars into the shadows until the electric cars renaissance in the late 20th Century.

It was originally launched in and integrated various concepts from previous systems including classified designs from the s. The first system used 24 satellites and became fully operational in Credit for its creation is often given to Roger L.

6 Mechanical Engineering Innovations that will Improve our Lives Soon

Easton, Ivan A. Getting and Bradford Parkinson from various agencies. Civilian use was allowed from as early as the 's. GPS systems have since become integrated into many modern technologies from your smartphone to your car and have revolutionized the way we all navigate. The catalytic converter is one of the most important automobile engineering innovations of all time. Its ability to convert toxic and other pollutants into less-hazardous forms has improved the air quality of our cities drastically. The basic concept is to pass exhaust gases through the converter, catalyzing it in a redox reaction.

They have become a legal requirement on diesel and gasoline engines but can also be fitted to lean-burn engines and kerosene heaters and stoves. They were first introduced in the U.


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Catalytic converters were the brainchild of Eugene Houdry , a French engineer, who'd moved to the U. He was shocked by the level of smog and pollution in Los Angeles when he arrived and decided to try to solve the problem. By the mid's he filed for and was awarded, a patent for his technology. It took stricter environmental regulations around the world for the mass adoption of them into cars. The first production converter, an improvement on Houdry's design, was produced in The now ubiquitous three-point seatbelt is designed to dissipate deceleration energy during a collision over the chest pelvis and shoulders of the passenger.

Before this innovation, the two-point seat belt was the standard. These were known to cause serious injuries during high-speed crashes. This great innovation in automobile engineering first appeared in the Volvo PV but became standard in the Volvo Volvo would later make the patent open in the interest of safety for the general public and industry at large.

According to the U. When Toyota released the Prius in , though production started in , few would appreciate the impact it would have on the auto industry. It incorporated a hybrid drivetrain that dramatically improved fuel efficiency forcing other car manufacturers to follow suit. The Prius was the first mass-produced hybrid that came with a tiny 1.

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Although uptake was slow at first today most car brands have some form of hybrid vehicle in their catalog. ESC or Electronic stability control helps correct a skid if your car starts to slide. It is, in effect, an improvement on the anti-lock brake systems that preceded it. ESC had a marked improvement in car safety, especially during emergency situations. As ESC yaw sensors detect a slide, the system applies the brakes on individual wheels to help correct the skid, and straighten the car.

Some ESC systems also take control of the throttle to manage power to each wheel as well. Its introduction provided home mechanics and professional technicians a means of finding out what exactly is wrong with a vehicle through a series of codes. OBD II also allowed for a considerably more sophisticated method of controlling the engine, improve fuel efficiency etc.

It was initially hated by car enthusiasts and mechanics it has sparked a new industry of scan tools and other aftermarket devices ranging from fuel economy meters to engine performance tuners. Dual-Clutch Transmission DCT allows for a driver to switch between gears and enhanced and seamless speed compared to more traditional transmissions. It has resulted in a process that is as easy as an automatic transmission but quicker than a manual transmission.

On a typical six-speed DCT gearbox, one clutch will handle odd gears whilst the other will shifts even gears. Gear changes are controlled by a series of computers. The concept was initially devised by a Frenchman, Adolphe Kegresse, before WW2, but he never made a working model.

DCT was first introduced in the s in racing cars but was first brought to the general public by Volkswagen. Their first dual clutch transmission, DSG, was launched in It has since become widely available in many other car brands from Lamborgini to Mercedes-Benz. The traditional car key is fast becoming a living fossil in the auto industry.

Smart keys are fast becoming the standard with many meaning engine ignition is started with the press of a button not the turning of a key. Some even open the car you as you approach. These were once just a novelty with some early designs resembling a credit card. As convenient as key fobs are, they could leave your car open to car hacking. Turbochargers , Turbos, have been used in production cars since the 's. They are effectively compressor that is driven by the cars exhaust gasses, forcing more air into the engine's cylinders.

Engineering with Innovation and Entrepreneurship MSc

More fuel and more air leads to more power and can make a smaller engine perform outside of its class. They are commonly used with Otto and Diesel cycle engines. The technology was invented by Swiss Engineer Alfred Buchi who received a patent for it in They would initially find applications in aircraft engines, especially during WW2. Today, car manufacturers now generally downsize their engine sizes to include turbocharged alternatives. This simultaneously boosts performance and increases fuel efficiency.

Another important automobile engineering innovation was the flashing turn signals indicators. Early forms date as early as but the patented version is now widely offered, often legally required, on street legal cars. They are required to blink on and off at a rate between 60 and "blinks per minute". Older models used a thermal interrupter switch to provide the 'blink' but these have been replaced with transistor circuits.

Cruise control was first developed by one Ralph Teeter in the 's. He developed it in response to his belief that uneven speeds caused accidents. And so Ralph succeeded in developing a servomechanism to help maintain a car's speed by taking control of the throttle from the driver. Although unpopular when first introduced in the 's it now comes as standard in many cars today.

The addition of radar to cruise control in the early 's has since taken the technology to the next level. It has also paved the way for driverless cars. So there you go 20 of greatest innovations and inventions of Automobile Engineering. Have we missed any big ones?